Robert Selden Garnett Marker, Monterey, California

The Corrective Plaque of Robert Selden Garnett and his Contribution to the Great Seal of California.
Robert Selden Garnett, CSA
Original Robert Selden Garnet Monument in Monterey
The Great Seal of the State of California

Dublin Core

Title

Robert Selden Garnett Marker, Monterey, California

Subject

Robert Selden Garnett-1819-1861
Original Monument-1957-2017
Removal, Rededication, Destruction-2017-2020

Description

In the city of Monterey, California a monument to Confederate General Robert Selden Garnett found a home for more than 60 years. This controversial marker of the "Lost Cause," erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy with the support of the city's mayor, shows how extensive and pervasive the Lost Cause narrative has been--even in the history of California. Born on December 16, 1819 to a slave-owning family in Essex County, Virginia, Garnett was a seasoned officer of the U.S. Army with various campaigns under his resume before the Civil War. He fought in the invasion of Mexico of 1846-48. After he finished helping the United States achieve territorial expansion at Mexico’s expense, the decorated soldier became involved in one of U.S. history's most abhorrent events, known as the Trail of Tears. In 1850, Garnett drove out 97 Seminole tribe members from Florida, relocating them farther west from their ancestral lands. Garnett remained an active participant of violence against the indigenous in the late 1850s as he decimated indigenous groups in the Washington Territory. Garnett is also credited with the creation of the seal of the State of California during the 1849 constitutional convention at Colton Hall in Monterey. As the antebellum South began its secession from the Union, Garnett followed by example, committing treason by joining the Confederate military. Resigning from his post as a major in the United States military, Garnett was bestowed the rank of brigadier general by the Confederacy. He died in battle on July 13, 1861, becoming the first Confederate general to be killed during the Civil War, sacrificing his life for the cause of slavery. On May 4, 1957, nearly 100 years after Garnett’s death, the United Daughters of the Confederacy dedicated a plaque to the Confederate general with Monterey Mayor Dan Searle presiding in support during the ceremony. For 60 years, the 12-by-16-inch bronze and granite monument remained in obscurity, even from the Southern Poverty Law Center's efforts to map confederate monuments across the United States. Soon after the 2017 neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, city officials agreed to remove the monument quietly rather than wait for it to be extralegally removed or vandalized by activists. In the monument's original location, the city of Monterey installed a similar bronze plaque commemorating the creation of the seal of California, leaving out the Confederate history of its creator. However, the reinstalled plaque endured less than three years before being destroyed in June 2020. The unknown perpetrator left a note written on cardboard that read “Celebrate real heroes. No place of honor for racists.” According to the Monterey County Weekly, the city of Monterey does not plan to pursue criminal charges or replace the plaque.
Original Inscription:
THE GREAT SEAL OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
DESIGNED BY

MAJOR ROBERT SELDEN GARNETT,
U.S. ARMY,

AND ADOPTED BY THE CONSTITUTIONAL
CONVENTION OF 1849 AT MONTEREY.
COMMISSIONED A BRIGADIER GENERAL
IN THE CONFEDERATE STATES ARMY.
HE WAS KILLED IN WEST VIRGINIA IN 1861,
THE FIRST GENERAL OFFICER TO FALL IN
THE WAR BETWEEN THE STATES

ERECTED BY CALIFORNIA DIVISION
UNITED DAUGHTERS OF THE CONFEDERACY
MAY 4, 1957

Creator

United Daughters of the Confederacy and Monterey Mayor Dan Searle

Source

Bergeron, Arthur. "Garnett, Robert S. (1819–1861)" Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (12 Feb. 2021). Web.
https://encyclopediavirginia.org/entries/garnett-robert-s-1819-1861.

Shalev, Asaf. “There Was a Confederate Monument in Monterey, but People Only Noticed after It Was Removed.” Monterey County Weekly, 4 July 2019, https://www.montereycountyweekly.com/people/831/there-was-a-confederate-monument-in-monterey-but-people-only/article_774cd478-9dde-11e9-bf70-efdaf0b4a3c3.html.

Shalev, Asaf. “Monterey Won't Replace Colton Hall Monument That Was Torn out over Confederacy Connection.” Monterey County Weekly, 18 June 2020, https://www.montereycountyweekly.com/news/local_news/monterey-won-t-replace-colton-hall-monument-that-was-torn-out-over-confederacy-connection/article_c286ab7c-b0f1-11ea-9d6d-0372c95d08cb.html.

Date

May 4, 1957 to 2017 (Removed)
Reinstalled, 2017
Destroyed, June 13, 2020

Contributor

Sergio Sifuentes

Language

English

Type

Bronze and Granite

Identifier

Hist 402A Fall 2021

Coverage

Monterey, California

Geolocation